"What they said they were going to do, they did."
That's how Streator, Illinois Mayor Jimmie Lansford sums up the commitment made by OSF HealthCare to make sure the region's residents had access to medical care. "Streator is a community that is very generous, and they're very loyal and very charitable," says Lansford. "And you can tell them something, but they really don't believe it unless they can see it or touch it; then they will believe it."
Lansford says the closing of Streator's only hospital in early 2016 was devastating, but he also understands the need for health care delivery to evolve, especially in rural communities. He believes OSF's establishment of a Center for Health and its plans for a collaborative wellness initiative has been very generous and that it's now time to move forward and work together.
The announcement of a $30.5 million renovation for the Center for Health - Streator is a key element of OSF's overall plan to promote health and wellness in a community and region that has a limited population, as well as transportation, but still must be served. "What's been challenging to us is [finding] a good balance of providing that medical clinical care that we have historically,” says Don Damron, Vice President of Ambulatory Services for OSF HealthCare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center. “Plus building and renovating the facility in a way that is innovative and is forthcoming to what is in the future plans for the community and health delivery across the country."
Lots of research and groundwork had to be accomplished before OSF entered this next phase of building a healthy community. Efforts in similar regions were studied; residents were surveyed about the status of their health needs; and collaborations with wellness-related organizations were established and continue to be. President of OSF HealthCare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center, Ken Beutke, is confident the success of this model will be proven, but admits it will take time. He says, however, the community needs to own it. They must understand and increase awareness of their wellness and health.
"Once we've done that, then we have to say - so what's most important to you as a community to address first," says Beutke. "What do you see as the greatest need? And then from there get community champions - not hospital champions - but community champions who are willing to lead whatever initiatives that the community feel is the most important."
Both exterior and interior renovations are planned for the Spring Street facility. These include improvements to OSF specialty clinics, rehabilitation, primary care and diagnostic imaging departments. A new entrance and lobby, with upgrades to registration and the addition of a tech bar for computer users, are also planned.
The launch of new, innovative technology is also a major component of transforming the rural health care model in Streator. OSF HealthCare is utilizing Patient Wisdom, an online survey platform for better understanding of what residents need to lead a healthier lifestyle. The organization is also adopting software developed by Pieces Technologies to bridge the information gap between social service organizations and health care providers. Ten community-based groups and OSF HealthCare will have the ability to better communicate about patients' well-being and intervene sooner to invest in their wellness.
To advance its partnership with local residents and organizations, OSF is adding community education and meeting rooms. "We want an environment where people are coming there, not to come to the old hospital when I'm sick and injured, but to come there to be well, to stay well, to get information and to get screened," says Beutke. “Maybe it's even to socialize, which is a big factor for some.”
Beutke says working together to create a Center for Health environment that is efficient and a good experience for the patient only furthers the trust and confidence OSF has been building in the community. Damron says it's truly a team effort. "OSF doesn't need to come in with all the answers," says Damron. “We want to take the opportunity to listen to the community and not deliver what we think they need, but what they want and need."
Mayor Lansford says excitement and confidence in the promises OSF has made and delivered has grown. "What OSF had said they were going to do is what they're following through with," says Lansford. "And - if you give me your word that you're going to do it and I can see it that you are going to do it, then why wouldn't you trust them?"
Some renovation work - like the demolition of St. Francis Hall - is already done. Work on the Center for Health will be done in phases and will start in January with completion scheduled for summer 2019.